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Facebook obtains interim measures against EU requests for sensitive personal data


Facebook obtains interim measures against EU requests for sensitive personal data

On 29 October 2020, the President of the General Court suspended part of two Commission decisions that had required Facebook to provide sensitive personal data in connection with ongoing investigations into Facebook’s social network platform. 

Facebook had argued that the Commission’s information requests will lead to the production of many documents that are wholly irrelevant to the Commission’s investigation and many of which include highly private or personal information about Facebook, its officers and employees.

In his ruling, the President noted that it is only exceptionally that a judge hearing an application for interim measures may order the suspension of operation of an act challenged before the General Court or prescribe any interim measures.

Nevertheless, he agreed with Facebook that, in view of the wide-ranging nature of the search terms and taking into account the likelihood that those terms will capture a large number of documents which are not necessarily relevant to the Commission’s investigation, it could not be ruled out that the EU court will find the contested decisions are unlawful in the absence of a method of verifying the relevance of the documents requested.

The President further concluded that Facebook had established an urgent need for interim measures in relation to documents containing sensitive personal documents (but not for other irrelevant confidential documents).  For this reason, the President ordered a bespoke virtual data room procedure for the review of such personal documents.

The President’s orders are available here and here.

The Reuters article is here.

The Bloomberg article is here

Daniel Jowell QC and David Bailey, instructed by James Aitken and Deba Das of Freshfields, are acting for Facebook in its actions for annulment and acted for Facebook in the interim relief against the Commission’s decisions.